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X celebrates entry into Big East

Mark Heyne

Xavier University sees a lot of benefits, athletic and otherwise, as it enters the Big East Conference.  Lots of X fans, students and supporters packed Fountain Square Monday afternoon as the university officially joined the 10-team league.  Among them was Jay Skeldon, who started the Musketeer Madness website as a student in 1997.

"What's happening today with the Big East and being part of such a great conference with such great tradition, great teams, like-member institutions, is just phenomenal," he said.

The coaches' take

Xavier was invited to join the new Big East Conference in March.  Men's basketball coach Chris Mack said the university's tradition and history made the move possible. 

"We would not be here today if it weren't for the successes of Xavier teams, players and coaches in the past," said Mack.

Women's basketball coach Amy Waugh is also looking forward to the move from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East.

"It's an exciting time for Xavier athletics and for women's basketball," said Waugh.  "We're excited about the opportunity and look forward to the new challenge."

It will definitely be a challenge as the league includes some tough competition in the form of fellow private schools Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova.  Mack said from top to bottom this will be the best league Xavier has ever played in.

Beyond athletics

As Xavier's athletic director points out, this move, in his opinion, is less about athletics and more about the institution itself.

"Athletics, when it's done the right way, not only is about the student athletes," said AD Greg Christopher.  "It's really about the platform that athletics provides for engagement and visibility for the entire university."

University officials  said being part of the new conference will provide additional national exposure for the university and be a big boost for admissions, alumni and fundraising efforts.